On the heels of the recently announced historic multilateral agreement over Iran’s nuclear program, self-described explanatory journalism outlet Vox.com has posted a number of infographics to explain certain parameters of the deal. The images were produced by Vox‘s graphics editor Javier Zarracina, who previously worked at the Los Angeles Times and the Boston Globe. The text accompanying the graphics, however, appears to derive largely from previous Vox posts, most likely ones penned by the site’s content manager Max Fisher.
In its copious coverage of the Iranian nuclear program, Vox – and Mr. Fisher in particular – routinely refers to Iran’s heavy water research reactor at Arak as a “plutonium plant,” a description that is not only factually inaccurate but also deliberately alarmist. The new post is unfortunately no different.
In its brief section on the nuclear facilities Iran will continue to operate under deal and the specific restrictions agreed to pertaining to these facilities, Zarracina produced the following map:
The bold text at the top of the map above is misleading. Iran currently has 18 nuclear facilities and nine additional locations (all hospitals) where nuclear material is used. All of these facilities – not just three, as Vox says – will continue to operate. All of them have long been declared to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and all are under agency safeguards and open to regular monitoring and inspection. At least four times a year for the past dozen years, the IAEA has consistently continued to “verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material at these facilities” to military and weaponization programs.
The three facilities Zarracina focuses on, however, are especially important. Two – Natanz and Fordow – are operational enrichment facilities; the other is a nuclear research reactor still under construction at the Arak complex.
In his explanation of the limitations Iran has accepted on its nuclear program, Zarracina claims the following:
The Arak facility matters because Iran has used it to develop plutonium, another nuclear fuel that can be used for energy or for a weapons program. Iran will be required to restructure its plutonium plant at Arak such that it will only make energy-grade plutonium, and will ship out its spent plutonium. The Arak facility will also be monitored.
Each of Zarracina’s three sentences contains either egregious errors or is explicitly misleading. His explanation is, as a result, just the opposite – an embarrassing exercise in ignorance and disinformation.
Let’s take the sentences one by one:
“The Arak facility matters because Iran has used it to develop plutonium, another nuclear fuel that can be used for energy or for a weapons program.”
For starters, the reactor at Arak remains under construction and has never been operational; therefore, Iran has never – ever – “used it to develop plutonium.” The reactor has in fact never been “used” to do anything. It’s never even been turned on.
Zarracina is clearly confused as to what facilities Arak contains, what those facilities do, and what Iran has done with these facilities. At Iran’s Arak complex, two facilities are relevant in this discussion: one is the IR-40 heavy water research reactor, the other is a heavy water production plant (HWPP). There is no such thing as a “plutonium plant” on the site.
The half-built IR-40 reactor is under full IAEA safeguards and is visited regularly by inspectors; the production plant, however, is not under safeguards and thus not legally subject to inspections. This is less alarming than it might sound and here’s why: heavy water is not nuclear material, it merely acts as a moderator and coolant in nuclear reactors that use natural uranium rather than enriched uranium. Still, Iran voluntarily provided IAEA inspectors access to HWPP in August 2011 and again in December 2013, even though this exceeded Iran’s legal obligations to the agency.
The IR-40 reactor at Arak – like all reactors – produces energy, not nuclear fuel. It runs on nuclear fuel. And once that fuel is used, it becomes irradiated and must be extracted from the reactor and replaced with new fuel.
All reactors that use uranium (natural or enriched) as fuel produce plutonium as a waste product. Ever heard of nuclear waste? Yeah, that includes plutonium, which hypothetically can be used to produce nuclear weapons. The amount of weapons-capable plutonium produced as a byproduct in the spent nuclear fuel of a heavy water reactor is usually more than what naturally occurs in the spent fuel from light water reactors, which run on enriched uranium and use normal water as coolant. This is why the Arak reactor in particular is considered by some to be an unacceptable proliferation risk.
But there’s more: weapons-grade plutonium present in irradiated (used) fuel must be extracted through a process known as reprocessing before it can be used for anything else. Iran has no reprocessing facility and has for years agreed never to build one. The new Iran deal simply reaffirms this past decision.
As nuclear expert Martin Sevior has explained, “Going the plutonium route to nuclear weapons is more difficult than using highly enriched uranium” because Iran “would have to build a sophisticated reprocessing plant which would be very hard to conceal while constructing, and requires even greater skill to conceal while operating.” Considering Iran has the single most scrutinized nuclear energy program on the planet and is constantly spied on by its adversaries,
Vox‘s writers seem to think that once a heavy water reactor is switched on, out pops weapons-grade plutonium, ready to be loaded into the nose cone of a ballistic missile bound for Tel Aviv or Boca Raton. This is not the case.
“Iran will be required to restructure its plutonium plant at Arak such that it will only make energy-grade plutonium, and will ship out its spent plutonium.”
Ok, again, there is no such thing as a “plutonium plant at Arak,” so that’s wrong. As part of the final agreement between Iran and its six negotiating partners, the Arak reactor will be redesigned and rebuilt so that it runs on 3.67% enriched uranium, not natural uranium, and no longer produces weapons-grade plutonium as a waste product. This essentially means Arak will be converted from a heavy water reactor to a light water reactor.
Once operational, the Arak reactor will be used for “peaceful nuclear research and radioisotope production for medical and industrial purposes,” just as Iran originally intended.
Zarracina compounds his misunderstanding of what nuclear reactors do and what they produce with the claim that Iran “will ship out its spent plutonium.” Reactors don’t produce “spent plutonium.” They produce spent uranium, the substance that actual fuels reactors, which, after irradiation, contains (along with many other radioactive byproducts) both plutonium isotopes Pu-239, which is suitable for weapons, and Pu-241, which is not. Plutonium enriched to more than 97% Pu-239 is dangerous; the more it is contaminated by Pu-241, the less danger it poses. The length of time nuclear fuel stays in a reactor determines how much of each plutonium isotope is leftover once the fuel is used up and removed from the reactor core. The longer the fuel stays in the less Pu-239 there is and the more Pu-241 there is. That’s why Pu-239, which is combustible, is referred to as “weapons grade,” while Pu-241 is known as “reactor-” or “energy-grade” plutonium. None of this plutonium, in whatever form, is used to fuel reactors; it is the byproduct of fuel, not the fuel itself.
And, again, for this plutonium byproduct to ever be used in a nuclear weapon, it must first be isolated and extracted from the spent fuel through reprocessing, which Iran is not incapable of – and not interested in – doing.
“The Arak facility will also be monitored.”
Ok, here’s an easy one. In simple terms, yes, Zarracina is correct. Arak will be monitored. But this statement is misleading without context. As mentioned already, Arak is already monitored by the IAEA – this is not a new development as a positive consequence of the Iran deal. Zarracina makes it sound like Iran finally agreed to put Arak under IAEA safeguards, but that’s not even remotely true.
In truth, even before Hassan Rouhani was elected president, Iran’s delegates to the IAEA under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were urging international “nuclear monitors to use powerful new detection technologies to dispel international concern that the Persian Gulf country is seeking to build atomic weapons,” reported Bloomberg News. “We always welcome the agency to have more sophisticated equipment, to have more accuracy in their measurements, so that technical matters will not be politicized,” Iranian Ambassador to the IAEA Ali Asghar Soltanieh said in early June 2013, adding that Iran “won’t object to IAEA monitors using new technologies to determine whether plutonium is being extracted from spent fuel at its new reactor in Arak.”
Ignoring Facts and Avoiding Responsibility
Writers and editors at Vox have a responsibility not to mislead their readers. Sure, nuclear technology is complex and journalists on deadline don’t always have time to study a lot of the details. But once errors are pointed out, Vox‘s editors should do their best to own up to and correct their mistakes and those of their writers. When it comes to their Iran coverage, this tends not to happen at Vox. Quite the contrary, fact-checking Vox on Iran’s nuclear program often results in hostility and dismissal from Vox staff.
At the very least, Vox should immediately stop referring to the research reactor at Arak as a “plutonium plant.” This is easy to do: call it what it is and stop misleading readers. Instead, due to either a stubborn allegiance to ignorance or extreme laziness, Vox has continued to misinform it audience about the Iranian nuclear program. Unless facile and faulty explanations are its editorial mission, Vox should do better.
One can easily see in the emerging information and cyber war that a nation having its own IT infrastructure, its own hardware, and its own versions of social media platforms is quickly becoming a matter of national security. Without control over these assets, a nation must depend on foreign suppliers for their computers, peripheries and software. Already, this dependence has opened nations up to now evident threats including malware embedded into hardware and software that is otherwise impossible to detect until the damage is already done.
Likewise, a nation’s food supply can and has throughout history, been a source of vulnerability in times of conflict. The inability to grow one’s own food invites blockades and their modern equivalent, sanctions, undermining a nation’s strength and stability and eventually setting the stage for its ultimate demise. Iraq is an example of this.
In the long-term, a nation’s food supply controlled by foreign corporations, particularly in the realm of genetically engineered organisms, can have disastrous effects. As a nation’s wealth is slowly drained from their shores and into the coffers of corporations like Bayer, Monsanto and Syngenta, inferior, expensive and environmentally devastating crops wreak havoc on the very socioeconomic fabric of a nation. India is increasingly becoming an example of this.
And what of healthcare? Surely the same applies. But even as nations and communities are just now understanding the importance of protecting their food supplies from predatory multinational corporations and the hegemonic ambitions they represent, there seems to be some latency in understanding this likewise in regards to healthcare and in particular pharmaceuticals and vaccines.
The Danger of Big-Pharma’s Vaccines
Imagine a gang member knocking at your door with a syringe in one hand, demanding you roll up your sleeve and allow him to inject its contents into your bloodstream. Likely there would be no hesitation to call the police and barricade the door until they arrived. Allowing a criminal to inject a substance known or unknown into your body would be an unimaginable risk no sane person would accept.
Now imagine that gang member is wearing a suit, has a multi-million dollar marketing budget, doctors and researchers working for him (paid via an expansive bribery network) and instead of knocking at your door, he invited you to one of his doctors’ offices to receive the injection. What we’ve just done here is describe big-pharma.
Immense pharmaceutical corporations like GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) have been caught numerous times engaged in immense criminality.
In 2012, the London Guardian would report in its article GlaxoSmithKline fined $3bn after bribing doctors to increase drugs sales that:
The pharmaceutical group GlaxoSmithKline has been fined $3bn (£1.9bn) after admitting bribing doctors and encouraging the prescription of unsuitable antidepressants to children. Glaxo is also expected to admit failing to report safety problems with the diabetes drug Avandia in a district court in Boston on Thursday.
The company encouraged sales reps in the US to mis-sell three drugs to doctors and lavished hospitality and kickbacks on those who agreed to write extra prescriptions, including trips to resorts in Bermuda, Jamaica and California.
In early 2014, the London Telegraph would report in its article GlaxoSmithKline ‘bribed’ doctors to promote drugs in Europe, former worker claims that:
GlaxoSmithKline, Britain’s largest drug company, has been accused of bribing doctors to prescribe their medicines in Europe.
Doctors in Poland were allegedly paid to promote its asthma drug, Seretide, under the guise of funding for education programme, a former sales rep has claimed.
Medics were also said to have been paid for lectures in the country which did not take place.
Then in late 2014, the BBC would report in its article GlaxoSmithKline fined $490m by China for bribery that:
China has fined UK pharmaceuticals firm GlaxoSmithKline $490m (£297m) after a court found it guilty of bribery.
The record penalty follows allegations the drug giant paid out bribes to doctors and hospitals in order to have their products promoted.
The court gave GSK’s former head of Chinese operations, Mark Reilly, a suspended three-year prison sentence and he is set to be deported.
These three news stories establish without doubt that an immense pharmaceutical giant, still allowed to conduct business to this very day, has been engaged in systematic, global criminality. The first story regarding its criminal conduct in the United States should be of particular concern, where the pharmaceutical giant encouraged doctors to peddle harmful substances to children. How exactly is that any different than your local pusher?
And it should be alarming to know that GSK is one of several pharmaceutical giants promoting the use of vaccines. Who would trust vaccines produced and peddled by the same corporation convicted multiple times of immense fraud, corruption and the endangerment of children?
But corrupt corporations peddling poison for profits still isn’t the greatest danger. State sanctioned bioweapons masquerading as vaccines is.
South Africa’s Vaccines Against “Being Black”
The apartheid regime in South Africa infamously waged war on its black population. So intent was the regime on subduing and/or exterminating black communities, its biological warfare program began developing a bioweapon that would infect only blacks, and planned to administer it covertly under the cover of a vaccine program.
The United Nations in a report titled Project Coast: Apartheid’s Chemical and Biological Warfare Programme would admit:
One example of this interaction involved anti-fertility work. According to documents from RRL [Roodeplaat Research Laboratories], the facility had a number of registered projects aimed at developing an anti-fertility vaccine. This was a personal project of the first managing director of RRL, Dr Daniel Goosen. Goosen, who had done research into embryo transplants, told the TRC that he and Basson had discussed the possibility of developing an anti-fertility vaccine which could be selectively administered—without the knowledge of the recipient. The intention, he said, was to administer it to black South African women without their knowledge.
Unscrupulous corporations with global reach, married to unscrupulous ideologies seeking to covertly kill off entire segments of their population constitutes nightmare scenarios generally confined to the realm of science fiction. However, here are the ingredients, right before our very eyes.
Vaccines and National Security
It is very clear then, why communities and nations must take control of their healthcare systems entirely. Not a single aspect of it can depend on foreign suppliers any more than national IT infrastructure, the food supply, power production, or military hardware can.
No nation would “outsource” the protection of its head of state to foreigners. Why would they outsource the protection of their people’s health? Dependence on big-pharma has already put countless lives in danger with untold disease, disabilities and death following in the wake of their unhinged global criminality. It should be noted, that despite their rampant criminality, they are all still very much in business, a testament to the unwarranted power and influence their immense profits and the lobbying efforts they purchase has afforded them.
If vaccines are determined to be beneficial to a nation’s population, they should be developed by that nation and administered only by that nation. There should be no multinational pharmaceutical corporations, because no nation should leave their population’s health to the whims of foreign entities who have already demonstrated the well-being of their customers is the least of their concerns.
And while nations taking up this responsibility and pushing out foreign pharmaceutical corporations is a good start, one must still consider the case of South Africa, where a government sought to destroy entire communities within their borders under the guise of vaccination programs. Individual communities and individuals themselves would be wise to think twice before allowing anyone to inject something into their body.
If vaccinations are so important, then the information required to make them should be made open source and all invited to examine how and why they are made and how to make them in community laboratories located at local universities and hospitals. If that can’t be done, then they probably aren’t that important to begin with nor any more legitimate or necessary than the dangerous antidepressants GSK peddled to little children in America, and surely something society could do well without.
It is late July 2015, and the media is abuzz with the news that Turkey will allow US jets to use its bases to bomb Islamic State (ISIS) targets in Syria. There is much talk about how this development is a “game-changer,” and how this is a clear escalation of the much ballyhooed, but more fictional than real, US war on ISIS: the terror organization that US intelligence welcomed as a positive development in 2012 in their continued attempts to instigate regime change against the Syrian government led by Bashar al-Assad.
The western public is told that “This is a significant shift… It’s a big deal,” as a US military official told the Wall Street Journal. What the corporate media fail to mention, however, is the fact that Turkey has been, and continues to be, a central actor in the war in Syria and, consequently, in the development and maintenance of ISIS. So, while Washington waxes poetic about stepping up the fight against the terror group, and lauds the participation of its allies in Ankara, the barely concealed fact is that Turkey is merely further entrenching itself in a war that it has fomented.
Of equal importance is the simple fact that a “war on ISIS” is merely a pretext for Turkey’s military engagement in Syria and throughout the region. Not only does Turkey’s neo-Ottoman revanchist President Erdogan want to flex his military muscles in order to further the regime change agenda in Syria, he also is using recent tragic events as political and diplomatic cover for waging a new aggressive war against the region’s Kurds, especially Turkey’s longtime foe the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK).
In this way, Turkey’s recent moves should be seen as merely a new phase of its engagement in the regional war that it has helped foment. Contrary to western corporate media talking points, Turkey has not just recently become actively engaged in the conflict; Ankara has merely shifted its strategy and its tactics, moving from covert engagement to overt participation.
Same War, New Phase
The immediate justification for the launching of renewed airstrikes by Turkey and the US is the expansion of the war against ISIS. In the wake of the bombing in Turkey’s majority Kurdish town of Suruç, which killed 32 youth activists, the Turkish government has allegedly struck hard against both ISIS and PKK targets. It is against this backdrop that any analysis of the new phase of this war must be presented.
First and foremost is the fact that even if one were to accept the Turkish government’s official story – the suicide bomber was linked to the Islamic State (ISIS) – not at all a certainty, the question of ultimate responsibility becomes central. While Ankara would have the world believe that its hands are clean, and that it is the innocent victim of international terrorism, the reality is that Turkey has done everything to foster and promote the growth of ISIS from the very beginning. As such, it is the Turkish government who must shoulder much of the blame for the Suruç bombing.
Since at least 2012, Turkey has been the principal conduit for weapons flowing into Syria. In June of that year, the NY Times confirmed that the CIA was smuggling weapons to anti-Assad forces from the Turkish side of the border using agents of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, long-time assets of US intelligence. Also in 2012, Reuters revealed that Turkey had “set up a secret base with allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar to direct vital military and communications aid to Syria’s rebels from a city near the border… ‘It’s the Turks who are militarily controlling it. Turkey is the main coordinator/facilitator. Think of a triangle, with Turkey at the top and Saudi Arabia and Qatar at the bottom,’ said a Doha-based source.”
It is now also documented fact that Turkish intelligence (MIT) has been an active player in the ongoing campaign to arm and resupply the terror groups such as the al Nusra Front and others. The evidence of this fact was made public by the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet which published video footage along with transcripts from wiretaps confirming what many eyewitnesses have stated: Turkish security forces have been directly involved in shelling and support operations for Nusra front and other jihadi groups in and around Kassab, Syria, among other sites. Many of the very same terrorists who have been armed and supported by the Turkish government are today being held up as enemies of Turkey, and rationalization of the need for Turkish military intervention.
So, with the inescapable understanding that Turkey’s government is the primary supporter and sponsor of terrorist groups in Syria, the justification for war becomes flimsy at best. But, if it’s not about fighting terror, then what exactly is Ankara’s objective? What does it hope to gain?
At the top of Erdogan’s agenda is using ISIS as a pretext for effecting the regime change in Syria that he has failed to bring about for these past four years. Despite providing weapons and cash, training sites and political cover, Turkey’s terror proxies have been roundly defeated by the Syrian Arab Army, Hezbollah, and allied forces. As such, Erdogan now needs to provide the overwhelming military superiority required to get the job done. This means air support and a “No Fly Zone” along the Turkey-Syria border, one which ostensibly will allow Turkey to fight ISIS, but in actuality is a means of securing territory for the terrorists who otherwise have been unable to do so. It is a de facto military intervention into Syria. Perhaps not even de facto, but outright declaration of war – a clear war crime.
Secondly, the alleged war on ISIS is a politically expedient cover for Erdogan to wage a full-scale war on the Kurds, and the PKK specifically. Within hours of announcing the new phase of the war, Turkish forces were bombing Kurdish targets in Syria and Iraq, effectively declaring war on both countries, in blatant violation of international law, to whatever extent such a thing still exists. Indeed, Erdogan made his position quite clear when he stated, “It is not possible for us to continue the peace process with those who threaten our national unity and brotherhood.” Essentially, Erdogan has declared war on all Kurds of the region.
Perhaps most important, and almost never discussed in the West, is the simple fact that Turkey is perpetuating an outright myth in their supposed strategy to create “Islamic State-free zones” along the border; Turkey plans to work with “moderate opposition” and “Free Syrian Army” in this endeavor. However, the fact remains that there is really no such thing as the “moderates,” and those terrorists that had at one time been labeled such have all either gone home, fled the country, gone over to the Al Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front, or are now fighting under the ISIS banner. And so, by stating such a plan, Erdogan is unwittingly admitting what this author has already reported numerous times – Turkey acts as military muscle for ISIS and al Qaeda in Syria and now Iraq.
But of course, were Turkey the only relevant party, these developments would not be of nearly the same global significance. Rather, it is the participation and collusion of the US and NATO that makes this troubling escalation far more dangerous.
Making Overt the Covert War
As of writing, NATO has not yet been convened to discuss Turkey’s war on Syria and the Kurds, though Ankara has called for the meeting under Article 4 of the NATO treaty which provides for consultation, but not necessarily collaborative military action. However, regardless of how the meeting proceeds, Turkey has been given overt support in its war by the US, which is, in effect, NATO.
Although the US feigns concern for the Kurds and the expansion of the war, Washington has in fact endorsed Turkey’s policy. White House spokesman Alistair Baskey noted that the US “strongly condemns” recent attacks by the PKK, reiterating the fact that Turkey is an important US and NATO ally. As Obama’s close adviser on national security matters Ben Rhodes stated, “The US, of course, recognises the PKK specifically as a terrorist organisation. And, so, again Turkey has a right to take action related to terrorist targets.”
While it would appear that Washington is taking a measured approach, cautiously supporting Turkey while trying to limit the scope of the operation, that illusion is merely for appearance’s sake. In fact, the Brookings Institution just last month issued a policy paper entitled Deconstructing Syria: Towards a regionalized strategy for a confederal country, which brazenly laid out a plan to, as political analyst Tony Cartalucci astutely pointed out, “divide, destroy, then incrementally occupy” Syria using the pretext of ISIS and terrorism. And that is precisely what we’re witnessing now.
But neither Cartalucci, nor this author, nor any other colleagues who have predicted this turn of events are clairvoyant. Rather, this development was very much expected. As noted above, those terrorists who now provide the rationale for a new war were the very same ones openly supported by the countries now waging the war. It was clear at the time that this would be their ultimate role. Sadly, the world has not effectively mobilized to stop this imperialist war thus far.
The question remains: will Syria survive? The answer depends on the continued resolve of the Syrian Arab Army and its allies, and on the global Resistance’s capacity to organize itself to effectively oppose the Empire in Syria and beyond.
Many indigenous groups have opted to enter the national dialogue (teleSUR)
Many in Ecuador’s robust indigenous movement are questioning a call by the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, also known as CONAIE, for a national uprising against the government of President Rafael Correa.
CONAIE has rejected a call for dialogue sponsored by the government and have instead have called for an indigenous-led uprising, which will begin with marches on Aug. 2 in the Zamora province and conclude in Quito for an uprising on Aug. 10.
“Everyone needs to know that CONAIE is not the only indigenous voice in the country,” Franklin Columba, leader of the National Confederation of Campesino, Indigenous and Black Organizations (FENOCIN) told teleSUR English on Thursday. “Here there are many organizations that also have their own processes.”
CONAIE’s demands are varied. For many indigenous activists government withdrawal from their land and a repeal of water laws are essential. Others have joined protests lead by the wealthy right-wing opposition leaders that have rejected of the capital gains bill and inheritance tax proposed by the national government to redistribute wealth.
“This march is to try and force the national government reconsider its political positions that they have been imposing. This uprising is demanding that the national government give concrete responses to our historic demands, our concrete demands in this country,” said President of CONAIE Jorge Herrera to the press.
The organization has taken a hardline to those who question their tactics, saying that they will sanction indigenous leaders who refuse to participate in the August uprising.
Columba told teleSUR that FENOCIN has rejected CONAIE’s uprising and it’s call for a national strike because “we as a national organization are not going to lend ourselves to playing the right’s game,” referring to the wealthy right-wing opposition who have used the momentum of current protests to denounce laws to redistribute the wealth in the country.
This is not the first indigenous uprising which has been called for in Ecuador. Indigenous nationalities from across the country converged on Quito on May 28, 1990. They blocked highways, held hunger strikes and occupied public spaces until they reached an agreement with the national government on June 11.
During the 1990 uprising CONAIE received popular support, as many of their demands represented those who lived harsh lives in Ecuadorean society. The movement is today under new leadership, and analysts have pointed to the fact that Pachakutik, the political party representing CONAIE, seems to be forging alliances with right-wing parties like former presidential candidate Guillermo Lasso’s CREO party.
“The alliances which we have seen Pachakutik make, the political arm, party of the indigenous movement of CONAIE and the Ecuarunari movement, are with right-wing groups. They are having meetings. This is a blow to their own ideological principles. They have always said that any type of relationship with the right would be impossible, because of what the right stands for,” said analyst Werner Vasquez to teleSUR English.
“(The right-wing) is the symbol of historic repression and exploitation suffered by the indigenous population. So it seems impossible to try to understand these alliances. I think it comes from them wanting to align themselves with those who are also opposed to the Citizen’s Revolution, and who have a common enemy, which is the state.”
Many indigenous organizations who participated in the 1990 uprising today feel that CONAIE no longer represents their interests. Some organizations, like FEI, agree that the land and water laws need to be revised, but they have chosen to participate in the National Dialogue on Equality and Social Justice to discuss these measures.
“We have proposed for this dialogue to cover fundamental issues, transcendental issues, like the agrarian revolution, also putting this in the context of diversifying production in the country, to support small and medium scale producers, campesinos and indigenous peoples,” said Jose Agualsaca, president of the Indigenous Federation of Ecuador (FEI) following a meeting with representatives of the national government to teleSUR English.
He went on to say, “We believe that these marches and this uprising wants to destabilize the country, and what they really want is to overthrow President Rafael Correa from power. But it would not end there, they want to take him out, then convoke a new constitutional assembly, and make a new constitution which would serve the interests of the richest sectors of society. This is the position of the FEI.”
Indigenous organizations across Ecuador are finding themselves at odds with CONAIE’S leadership, which has been viewed as moving further and further away from its historic support base. These groups are opting for dialogue, discussing their concerns and ideas with national authorities, in an effort to become key participants in constructing the future of the country.
The Washington Post’s descent into the depths of neoconservative propaganda – willfully misleading its readers on matters of grave importance – apparently knows no bounds as was demonstrated with two deceptive articles regarding Russian President Vladimir Putin and why his government is cracking down on “foreign agents.”
If you read the Post’s editorial on Wednesday and a companion op-ed by National Endowment for Democracy President Carl Gershman, you would have been led to believe that Putin is delusional, paranoid and “power mad” in his concern that outside money funneled into non-governmental organizations represents a threat to Russian sovereignty.
The Post and Gershman were especially outraged that the Russians have enacted laws requiring NGOs financed from abroad and seeking to influence Russian policies to register as “foreign agents” – and that one of the first funding operations to fall prey to these tightened rules was Gershman’s NED.
The Post’s editors wrote that Putin’s “latest move, announced Tuesday, is to declare the NED an ‘undesirable’ organization under the terms of a law that Mr. Putin signed in May. The law bans groups from abroad who are deemed a ‘threat to the foundations of the constitutional system of the Russian Federation, its defense capabilities and its national security.’
“The charge against the NED is patently ridiculous. The NED’s grantees in Russia last year ran the gamut of civil society. They advocated transparency in public affairs, fought corruption and promoted human rights, freedom of information and freedom of association, among other things. All these activities make for a healthy democracy but are seen as threatening from the Kremlin’s ramparts. …
“The new law on ‘undesirables’ comes in addition to one signed in 2012 that gave authorities the power to declare organizations ‘foreign agents’ if they engaged in any kind of politics and receive money from abroad. The designation, from the Stalin era, implies espionage.”
But there are several salient facts that the Post’s editors surely know but don’t want you to know. The first is that NED is a U.S. government-funded organization created in 1983 to do what the Central Intelligence Agency previously had done in financing organizations inside target countries to advance U.S. policy interests and, if needed, help in “regime change.”
The secret hand behind NED’s creation was CIA Director William J. Casey who worked with senior CIA covert operation specialist Walter Raymond Jr. to establish NED in 1983. Casey – from the CIA – and Raymond – from his assignment inside President Ronald Reagan’s National Security Council – focused on creating a funding mechanism to support groups inside foreign countries that would engage in propaganda and political action that the CIA had historically organized and paid for covertly. To partially replace that CIA role, the idea emerged for a congressionally funded entity that would serve as a conduit for this money.
But Casey recognized the need to hide the strings being pulled by the CIA. “Obviously we here [at CIA] should not get out front in the development of such an organization, nor should we appear to be a sponsor or advocate,” Casey said in one undated letter to then-White House counselor Edwin Meese III – as Casey urged creation of a “National Endowment.”
NED Is Born
The National Endowment for Democracy took shape in late 1983 as Congress decided to also set aside pots of money — within NED — for the Republican and Democratic parties and for organized labor, creating enough bipartisan largesse that passage was assured. But some in Congress thought it was important to wall the NED off from any association with the CIA, so a provision was included to bar the participation of any current or former CIA official, according to one congressional aide who helped write the legislation.
This aide told me that one night late in the 1983 session, as the bill was about to go to the House floor, the CIA’s congressional liaison came pounding at the door to the office of Rep. Dante Fascell, a senior Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a chief sponsor of the bill. The frantic CIA official conveyed a single message from CIA Director Casey: the language barring the participation of CIA personnel must be struck from the bill, the aide recalled, noting that Fascell consented, not fully recognizing the significance of the demand.
The aide said Fascell also consented to the Reagan administration’s choice of Carl Gershman to head the National Endowment for Democracy, again not recognizing how this decision would affect the future of the new entity and American foreign policy. Gershman, who had followed the classic neoconservative path from youthful socialism to fierce anticommunism, became NED’s first (and, to this day, only) president.
Though NED is technically independent of U.S. foreign policy, Gershman in the early years coordinated decisions on grants with Raymond at the NSC. For instance, on Jan. 2, 1985, Raymond wrote to two NSC Asian experts that “Carl Gershman has called concerning a possible grant to the Chinese Alliance for Democracy (CAD). I am concerned about the political dimension to this request. We should not find ourselves in a position where we have to respond to pressure, but this request poses a real problem to Carl.”
Currently, Gershman’s NED dispenses more than $100 million a year in U.S. government funds to various NGOs, media outlets and activists around the world. The NED also has found itself in the middle of political destabilization campaigns against governments that have gotten on the wrong side of U.S. foreign policy. For instance, prior to the February 2014 coup in Ukraine, overthrowing elected President Viktor Yanukovych and installing an anti-Russian regime in Kiev, NED was funding scores of projects.
A second point left out of the Post’s editorial was the fact that Gershman took a personal hand in the Ukraine crisis and recognized it as an interim step toward regime change in Moscow. On Sept. 26, 2013, Gershman published an op-ed in the Washington Post that called Ukraine “the biggest prize” and explained how pulling it into the Western camp could contribute to the ultimate defeat of Russian President Putin.
“Ukraine’s choice to join Europe will accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism that Putin represents,” Gershman wrote. “Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.” In other words, NED is a U.S. government-financed entity that has set its sights on ousting Russia’s current government.
A third point that the Post ignored is that the Russian law requiring outside-funded political organizations to register as “foreign agents” was modeled on a U.S. law, the Foreign Agent Registration Act. In other words, the U.S. government also requires individuals and entities working for foreign interests and seeking to influence U.S. policies to disclose those relationships with the U.S. Justice Department or face prison.
If the Post’s editors had included any or all of these three relevant factors, you would have come away with a more balanced understanding of why Russia is acting as it is. You might still object but at least you would be aware of the full story. By concealing all three points, the Post’s editors were tricking you and other readers into accepting a propagandistic viewpoint – that the Russian actions were crazy and that Putin was, according to the Post’s headline, “power mad.”
But you might think that Gershman would at least acknowledge some of these points in his Post op-ed, surely admitting that NED is financed by the U.S. government. But Gershman didn’t. He simply portrayed Russia’s actions as despicable and desperate.
“Russia’s newest anti-NGO law, under which the National Endowment for Democracy on Tuesday was declared an “undesirable organization” prohibited from operating in Russia, is the latest evidence that the regime of President Vladimir Putin faces a worsening crisis of political legitimacy,” Gershman wrote, adding:
“This is the context in which Russia has passed the law prohibiting Russian democrats from getting any international assistance to promote freedom of expression, the rule of law and a democratic political system. Significantly, democrats have not backed down. They have not been deterred by the criminal penalties contained in the ‘foreign agents’ law and other repressive laws. They know that these laws contradict international law, which allows for such aid, and that the laws are meant to block a better future for Russia.”
The reference to how a “foreign agents” registration law conflicts with international law might have been a good place for Gershman to explain why what is good for the goose in the United States isn’t good for the gander in Russia. But hypocrisy is a hard thing to rationalize and would have undermined the propagandistic impact of the op-ed.
So would an acknowledgement of where NED’s money comes from. How many governments would allow a hostile foreign power to sponsor politicians and civic organizations whose mission is to undermine and overthrow the existing government and put in someone who would be compliant to that foreign power?
Not surprisingly, Gershman couldn’t find the space to include any balance in his op-ed – and the Post’s editors didn’t insist on any.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).
In a brazen move, designed to ensure that Russia is ruled by Russians, the Duma has passed laws limiting the powers of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to operate inside Russia. The first target being the National Endowment for Democracy. This is a terrible blow for freedom around the world, according to The Guardian, because the NED is simply an oasis of decency in Putin’s Empire of Evil:
The National Endowment for Democracy, a Washington-based nonprofit funded largely by the US Congress, has become the first group to be banned in Russia under a law against “undesirable” international nongovernmental organisations.
According to its website, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is “dedicated to the growth and strengthening of democratic institutions around the world” and has funded local non-governmental organisations in more than 90 countries. But in a statement on Tuesday, the prosecutor general’s office said it “poses a threat to the constitutional order of the Russian Federation and the defensive capability and security of the government”. [our emphasis]
Really? Really Guardian ? In order to inform us about what the NED is you just went to their own website and did copy/paste? Even the HuffPo, which is no one’s idea of hard-hitting investigative journalism can do better than that. Here’s an article it published by Mark Taliano about the NED:
Democracy is usually the first victim of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a U.S. agency that promotes the U.S Empire’s foreign policy beneath the false guise of “promoting democracy”.
Considered a “soft” tool of Empire, NED and its subsidiaries work to transform societal fissures in target countries into gaping holes, through which covert agendas can metastize before exploding into illegal regime changes.
Funding flows from the congressional budget of USAID, to NED and its subsidiaries, and finally to factions within target countries whose political economies do not align with globalized economic models of monopoly capitalism.
Beneath NED’s democratic veneer is a Board of Directors replete with members who also represent Fortune 500 companies. Additionally, board members include signatories to the pro-war, pro-corporatocracy think tank Project For A New American Century: Francis Fukuyama, Zalmay Khalizad, Will Marshall, and Vin Weber.
You’ll notice they don’t say whose freedom.
Which makes the Russian Duma’s decision to boot these guys out a tad more understandable, no?
Since the Graun apparently doesn’t do its own research any more, maybe it could at least copy/paste the Huff’s article in place of the contents from NED’s own About page? Or will that conflict with their GCHQ brief?
The road to war is paved with a thousand lies. A fresh fib was tossed on the lie-cluttered warpath to Syria, when it was announced that the U.S. and Turkey would create a “safe zone” inside of Syria — supposedly to be aimed against ISIS.
This “safe zone” is a major escalation of war, but it was described in soft tones by the media. In reality a “safe zone” is a “no-fly zone,” meaning that a nation is planning to implement military air superiority inside the boundaries of another nation. It’s long recognized by the international community and U.S. military personnel as a major act of war. In a war zone an area is made “safe” by destroying anything in it or around that appears threatening.
Turkey has been demanding this no-fly zone from Obama since the Syrian war started. It’s been discussed throughout the conflict and even in recent months, though the intended target was always the Syrian government.
And suddenly the no-fly zone is happening — right where Turkey always wanted it — but it’s being labeled an “anti-ISIS” safe zone, instead of its proper name: “Anti Kurdish and anti-Syrian government” safe zone.
The U.S. media swallowed the name change without blinking, but many international media outlets knew better.
For instance, the International Business Times reported “ [the safe zone deal]… could mark the end of [Syrian President] Assad…”
And the Middle East Eye reported:
“…[the safe zone] marks a breakthrough for Turkey in its confrontation with the Bashar al-Assad government in Syria. If the no-fly zone does come into being it will be a body blow for Assad and his supporters”
Even U.S. media outlets acknowledged that the primary goal of Obama’s safe zone ally, Turkey, was defeating the Kurdish fighters and the Syrian government, both of whom have been the most effective fighters against ISIS.
Syrian regime change is also the goal of the ground troops who will be filling the void left by ISIS, who the New York Times labeled “relatively moderate Syrian insurgents,” a telling euphemism.
The New York Times confirmed the goals of the safe zone allies:
“…both the Turks and the Syrian insurgents see defeating President Bashar al-Assad of Syria as their first priority…”
If the Syrian government wasn’t the target of the safe zone, then Syrian government troops would be the ones to control the safe zone post ISIS, as they did before ISIS. And if regime change wasn’t the target, then the Syrian government would have been consulted and coordinated with to attack ISIS, since Syria is involved with heavy fighting against ISIS in the same region that the safe zone is being carved out.
These steps weren’t taken because the “safe zone” plan is much bigger than ISIS.
Obama hasn’t detailed who the “relatively moderate” fighters are that will control the safe zone, but it’s easy to guess. We only have to look at the Syrian rebels on the ground who are effective fighters and control nearby territory.
The most powerful non-ISIS group in the region recently re-branded itself as the “Conquest Army,” a coalition of Islamic extremists led by Jabhat al-Nusra — the official al-Qaeda affiliate — and the group Ahrar al-Sham, whose leader previously stated that his group was “the real al Qaeda.” The Conquest Army actively coordinates with Turkey and Saudi Arabia, and is also populated with U.S.-trained fighters.
These groups share the ideology and tactics of ISIS, the only difference being their willingness to work with the United States and Turkey. It’s entirely likely that once the “safe zone” operation starts, many ISIS troops will simply change shirts and join Jabhat al-Nusra, since there is no principled difference.
Obama knows that the foreign ground troops controlling the “safe zone” are targeting the Syrian government; consequently, U.S. military planes will be acting as the de-facto air force for Al-Qaeda against the Syrian government.
Thus, direct military confrontation with the Syrian government is inevitable. President Assad is already attacking ISIS in the area that the U.S.-Turkey alliance wants to make “safe” via its coordinated military operation. Syrian fighter jets will eventually be targeted, since the goal is to allow extremist groups a “safe zone” to continue their attacks on the Syrian government after ISIS is dealt with.
This danger was also acknowledged by the New York Times:
“Whatever the goal, the plan [safe zone] will put American and allied warplanes closer than ever to areas that Syrian aircraft regularly bomb, raising the question of what they will do if Syrian warplanes attack their partners [“relatively moderate rebels”] on the ground.”
The answer seems obvious: U.S. and Turkish fighter jets will engage with Syrian aircraft, broadening and deepening the war until the intended aim of regime change has been accomplished.
This is exactly how events developed in Libya, when the U.S.-NATO led a “no-fly zone” that was supposedly created to allow a “humanitarian corridor,” but quickly snowballed into its real goal: regime change and assassination of Libya’s president. This epic war crime is still celebrated by Obama and Hillary Clinton as a “victory,” while Libyans drown in the Mediterranean to escape their once-modern but now obliterated country.
If Obama’s goal in Syria was actually defeating ISIS, this could have been achieved at any time, in a matter of weeks. It would simply take a serious and coordinated effort with U.S. regional allies, while coordinating with the non-allies already fighting ISIS: Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah.
If Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Jordan were involved in the fight on ISIS it would be quickly strangled of cash, guns, and troops, and be massively out-powered. War over.
The only reason this hasn’t happened is that the U.S. and its allies have always viewed ISIS as a convenient proxy against Syria, Hezbollah, and Iran, not to mention leverage against the Iran-friendly government of Iraq.
Turkey remains the biggest obstacle to defeating ISIS, since it’s been helping it for years. ISIS has long used the Turkish border to escape Syrian government attacks, seek medical assistance, and get supplies and reinforcements. ISIS is so welcomed inside Turkey that ISIS promotes Turkey on social media as the international transit hub for jihadis wanting to join ISIS. Turkish immigration and customs looks the other way as does the Turkish border control.
In discussing the “safe zone,” the U.S. media always ignore the concept of national sovereignty — the basis for international law. The boundaries of countries are sacred from the standpoint of international law. The only just war is a defensive one. When one country implements a no-fly zone in another country, national boundaries are violated and international law is broken by an act of war.
The Obama administration is aware of the above dynamics, but has again tossed caution to the wind as he did in 2013, during the ramp up to its aborted bombing campaign against the Syrian government.
A U.S.-Turkish no-fly zone will deepen an already regional war: Iran and Hezbollah have recently ramped up direct support of the Syrian government. As Turkish and the U.S. military enter the war space for the first time, confrontation is inevitable. Confrontation is the plan.
Jimmy Carter called a war waged in Vietnam by the United States — a war that killed 60,000 Americans and 4,000,000 Vietnamese, without burning down a single U.S. town or forest — “mutual” damage. Ronald Reagan called it a “noble” and “just cause.” Barack Obama promotes the myth of the widespread mistreatment of returning U.S. veterans, denounces the Vietnamese as “brutal,” and has launched a 13-year, $65 million propaganda program to glorify what the Vietnamese call the American War:
As we observe the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, we reflect with solemn reverence upon the valor of a generation that served with honor. We pay tribute to the more than 3 million servicemen and women who left their families to serve bravely, a world away . . . They pushed through jungles and rice paddies, heat and monsoon, fighting heroically to protect the ideals we hold dear as Americans.
Which ideals might those have been? Remember, this was the bad war in contrast to which World War II acquired the ridiculous label “good war.” But the Pentagon is intent on undoing any accurate memory of Vietnam. Members of the wonderful organization, Veterans For Peace, meanwhile have launched their own educational campaign to counter the Pentagon’s at VietnamFullDisclosure.org, and the Vietnam Peace Commemoration Committee has done the same at LessonsOfVietnam.com. Already, the Pentagon has been persuaded to correct some of its inaccurate statements. Evidence of the extent of the killing in Vietnam continues to emerge, and it has suddenly become universally acceptable in academia and the corporate media to acknowledge that presidential candidate Richard M. Nixon secretly sabotaged peace talks in 1968 that appeared likely to end the war until he intervened. As a result, the war raged on and Nixon won election promising to end the war, which he didn’t do. There would seem to be at work here something like a 50-year limit on caring about treason or mass-murder. Imagine what it might become acceptable to say about current wars 50 years hence!
And yet, many lies about Vietnam are still told, and many truths are too little known. After Nixon sabotaged peace negotiations, U.S. and Vietnamese students negotiated their own People’s Peace Treaty, and used it to pressure Nixon to finally make his own.
“Suppose Viet Nam had not enjoyed an international solidarity movement, particularly in the United States,” writes Madame Nguyen Thi Binh. “If so, we could not have shaken Washington’s aggressive will.”
The People’s Peace Treaty began like this:
Be it known that the American and Vietnamese peoples are not enemies. The war is carried out in the names of the people of the United States and South Vietnam but without our consent. It destroys the land and people of Vietnam. It drains America of its resources, its youth and its honor.
We hereby agree to end the war on the following terms, so that both peoples can live under the joy of independence and can devote themselves to building a society based on human equality and respect for the earth. In rejecting the war we also reject all forms of racism and discrimination against people based on color, class, sex, national origin, and ethnic grouping which form the basis of the war policies, past and present, of the United States government.
1. The Americans agree to the immediate and total withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Vietnam.
2. The Vietnamese pledge that, as soon as the U.S. government publicly sets a date for total withdrawal, they will enter discussions to secure the release of all American prisoners, including pilots captured while bombing North Vietnam.”
Nine leaders of the U.S. antiwar movement of the 1960s have put their current thoughts down in a forthcoming book called The People Make the Peace: Lessons from the Vietnam Antiwar Movement. The movement of the 1960s and early 1970s was widespread and dynamic beyond what we know today. It was part of a wider culture of resistance. It benefitted from the novelty of televised war and televised protest. It benefitted from hugely flawed but better-than-today economic security, media coverage, and election systems, the impact of the draft, and — of course — the creativity and courage and hard work of peace activists.
Those contributing to this book, and who recently returned to Vietnam together, are Rennie Davis, Judy Gumbo, Alex Hing, Doug Hostetter, Jay Craven, Becca Wilson, John McAuliff, Myra MacPherson, and Nancy Kurshan. Their insights into the war, the Vietnamese culture, and U.S. culture, and the peace movement are priceless.
This was a war that Vietnamese and Americans killed themselves to protest. This was a war in which Vietnamese learned to raise fish in bomb craters. This was a war in which U.S. peace activists illegally traveled to Vietnam to learn about the war and work for peace. This is a war in which people still die from weapons that explode these many years later or from poisons that take this long to kill. Third-generation victims with birth defects live in the most contaminated areas on earth.
Nixon recorded himself fretting about the People’s Peace Treaty with his staff. Two years later, he eventually agreed to similar terms. In the meantime, tens of thousands of people died.
And yet the Vietnamese distinguish clearly, as they always did, U.S. peace advocates from the warmongering U.S. government. They love and honor Norman Morrison who burned himself to death at the Pentagon. They carry on without bitterness, hatred, or violence. The rage still roiling the United States from the U.S. Civil War is not apparent in Vietnamese culture. Americans could learn from Vietnamese attitudes. We could also learn the lesson of the war — and not treat it as a disease called “the Vietnam syndrome” — the lesson that war is immoral and even on its own terms counter-productive. Recognizing that would be the beginning of health.
A federal judge has rejected a legal challenge from a Guantanamo Bay inmate who said his continued imprisonment was unlawful since President Barack Obama had declared an end to the war in Afghanistan. The detainee has been held for 13 years.
The challenge brought by lawyers for detainee Muktar Yahya Najee al-Warafi said the Obama administration’s statement that the war in Afghanistan had come to an end made their client’s detention unlawful under the Authorization for the Use of Military Force of 2001. The authorization provides legal justification for imprisoning foreign fighters captured overseas.
The plaintiff’s argument also pointed to President Obama’s January 2015 speech declaring that “our combat mission in Afghanistan is over.”
The Washington, DC federal judge, Royce Lambert, wrote in his 14-page opinion that the president’s statement notwithstanding, the government had offered “convincing evidence the US involvement in the fighting in Afghanistan, against Al-Qaeda and Taliban forces alike, has not stopped,” and that al-Warafi’s detention remains legal.
“A court cannot look to political speeches alone to determine factual and legal realities merely because doing so would be easier than looking at all the relevant evidence,” Lambeth wrote, according to a report by the Associated Press. “The government may not always mean what it says or say what it means.”
Brain Foster, a lawyer for al-Warafi, said the judge’s opinion amounted to “a rubber stamp for endless detention” and would review the opinion to decide whether to appeal.
Foster also took to Twitter to say al-Warafi had worked in medical clinics in Afghanistan, a position that would provide him with protection under The Geneva Conventions.
Al-Warafi, a Yemeni, was captured in Afghanistan by the Northern Alliance in 2001 before being detained by the US at Guantanamo in 2002.
More than 700 inmates have been held at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, at a cost of more than $5 billion, since it opened in 2002 in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. The facility has been mired in scandal throughout its history, with allegations of torture, force feeding and sexual abuse.
There are still 116 detainees at the prison. Speaking at national security conference in Aspen, Colorado on July 24, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said it “doesn’t make fiscal sense” to keep Guantanamo open.
Johnson said that it costs nearly $900,000 per year to house each prisoner at Guantanamo, amounting to a total cost of more than $100 million per year. In comparison, he said the cost of housing an inmate in a high-security federal prison was $80,000.
Three teens mistakenly walked up to the home of a New Jersey state trooper at 2 a.m. last Sunday and began knocking on the door, thinking it was their friend’s home, who lives on the same block.
But when a man on the other side of the door began yelling and cursing at them, they realized they had the wrong home and began walking back to their car.
When the angry man stepped out of the home, they began running and hopped in their car.
And when they saw him aiming a gun with a laser pointer towards them, they stepped on the accelerator to make their escape down the street in front of the home.
But the off-duty trooper, whose name is Kissinger Barreau, stepped into the street and fired three shots, including one that struck the tire.
“We realize it’s a gun and we panic. I’m like ‘dude, dude, dude, accelerate,’” Jesse Barkhorn told NJ.com.
What they didn’t realize was that the man who shot at them was a cop, which meant that his buddies were going to do everything they could to justify firing a gun at three teens who were not even on his property anymore.
About a mile-and-half away from the trooper’s home, once they believed they were safe from the crazy gunman, they stopped the car and one of the teens called his mom to tell her what had happened. He then called police to tell them what had happened.
Minutes later, when the teens noticed police helicopter and police dogs conducting a search in the area, they figured the cops were looking for the trigger-happy gunman.
But then they found themselves surrounded by cops, who searched and handcuffed them before leaving them in the back of a patrol car for hours on accusations that they had attempted to burglarize his home.
They were then driven down to Sparta police headquarters where they were photographed and placed in different cells.
Then they were transported to State Police Barracks where they were handcuffed to a steel bench for five hours before they were interrogated.
During that interrogation, police kept trying to get the teens to say they drove the car towards the cops, which, of course, would have made him fear for his life and justify the shooting.
But the teens just wouldn’t take the bait.
“That’s the exact opposite of what we were trying to do. We were just scared and trying to get out of there with our lives,” Barkhorn told the local news site.
The teens were eventually released when the cops confirmed that they did have a friend living on the same block and realized they were not going to admit to something they did not do.
And that was unfortunate for them because it meant they had to investigate their fellow trooper and we know they don’t like doing that. At least not very thoroughly.
The investigation is now being conducted by the state attorney general’s office, who are predictably taking a very pro-cop stance.
According to NJ.com:
The state attorney general’s office says its preliminary investigation has found an off-duty state trooper fired three shots from his personal gun as three teens fled his street in a car early Sunday morning — an account that’s largely consistent with what one of the teens has told NJ Advance Media.
But not entirely consistent.
Both say the teens knocked on the trooper’s Whispering Woods Lane door late at night after mistaking his home for a friend’s. Both say the trooper came downstairs with a gun — the AG’s office says it was his personal handgun. What the AG’s office describes as a “verbal exchange through the door,” teen Jesse Barkhorn, 18, describes as yelling and cursing by the trooper.
And both say that as the teens got in their car and fled, the trooper entered the street with the gun.
Where they notably differ: According to the AG’s office, the trooper says he identified himself as a trooper and pursued the teens on foot as they fled. Barkhorn says the trooper never identified himself.
It’s going to be interesting to see how this pans out because it appears that the only way to justify the shooting would be to criminalize the teens, either accusing them of trying to run the cop over or fleeing the scene even after they were told he was a cop, which should not make a difference considering anybody can claim they are a cop when they are out of uniform.
Barack Obama and John Kerry are playing with fire. They presumably want Congress and the American public to accept the nuclear agreement they and four other governments struck with Iran, but they work against their own objective by accepting the false premise of their opponents: namely, that Iran’s regime is untrustworthy, dangerous, bent on becoming a nuclear power — and containable only by a U.S. readiness to wage war.
Who knows if the president and secretary of state really believe this? But they ought to know that this premise is wrong.
Their incentive to accept the false premise is obvious. Neither wants his obituary to declare that his greatest achievement was to persuade Iran not to develop a weapon it had no intention of developing.
On announcing the deal Obama said, “Today, because America negotiated from a position of strength and principle, we have stopped the spread of nuclear weapons in this region. Because of this deal, the international community will be able to verify that the Islamic Republic of Iran will not develop a nuclear weapon.”
Likewise in remarks to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week, Kerry said, “So this isn’t a question of giving them [Iran] what they want. I mean it’s a question of how do you hold their program back, how do you dismantle their weapons program….”
Hence, Obama and Kerry endorse the claim that Iran was seeking to build nuclear weapons. The long negotiating process was based on that premise. So they must now insist that the agreement contains leak-proof verification, because like their opponents, Obama and Kerry say the Iranians cannot be trusted. But the hawks demagogically ignore that part of the administration’s case and claim the agreement does depend on trust; Iran can and will cheat, the hawks say, no matter what verification measures are in place. They can even quote Wendy Sherman, leader of the U.S. negotiating team, who once told a Senate committee, “We know that deception is part of the [Iranian] DNA.”
That’s some great way for Obama and Kerry to sell their agreement.
It would be better for Obama and Kerry to tell the truth for once: Iran has not been seeking a nuclear bomb. This has long been well-understood by American and Israeli intelligence and military agencies. As former CIA analyst Ray McGovern points out, George W. Bush had to give up plans to attack Iran in 2007 because a National Intelligence Estimate signed by all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies found that Iran had stopped (alleged) research on nukes four years earlier. This conclusion was renewed regularly in subsequent years. In fact, as Gareth Porter notes, “US national intelligence estimates during the Bush administration concluding that Iran had run such a program, including the most famous estimate issued in November 2007, were based on inference, not on hard intelligence.”
We have many other indications of Iran’s non-interest in nukes, all of which are documented by Porter, the man who literally wrote the book on the case. (See Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare.) We know, for example, that Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, issued a religious edict (fatwa) against nuclear weapons. We know that when Iran could have bought weapons-related equipment from an illegal Pakistani network, it did not. We know that for years Iran tried every way to avoid having to enrich uranium for its power plants but was thwarted each time by the U.S. government. Finally, we know that when the Iranian government could have made chemical weapons to retaliate for Iraq’s U.S.-backed chemical warfare against Iran in the 1980s, then-Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini forbade it on religious grounds.
Despite this, it is open season on Iran. Most everyone feels he can level any charge against it without providing a scintilla of evidence. Most common is the charge that Iran is the “chief state sponsor of terrorism.” But does anyone bother to prove it? It requires no proof. It’s the Big Lie, and it serves the war party’s agenda. (For evidence to the contrary see these two pieces by Ted Snider.
The P5+1 agreement, though unnecessary, is preferable to war. Obama and Kerry should stop thinking about their legacies and start leveling with us.
Climate Depot’s Rebuttal
If any Americans actually believe the climate claims linking ‘global warming’ to a rise in conflicts, no amount of evidence, data, logic or scientific studies will likely persuade them. But given the high profile nature of the Pentagon report, a rebuttal is necessary.
Obama has claimed that climate ‘deniers’ were a huge part of the problem. Obama explained: “Denying it, or refusing to deal with it, endangers our national security and undermines the readiness of our forces.”
Obama seems to be borrowing his claims from Rolling Stone Magazine :
But actually believing the above statements endangers our capacity for rational thought and evidence based research. Actually believing Obama and his Pentagon’s climate claims, undermines our nation’s ability to distinguish real threats from politically contrived nonsense.
UN climate treaties and EPA climate regulations will not prevent wars, conflicts or impact the creation of terrorist groups.
The President seems to believe every modern malady is due to ‘global warming.’
President Obama claimed that man-made climate change was partly responsible for the civil war in Syria. “It’s now believed that drought, crop failures, and high food prices helped fuel the early unrest in Syria, which descended into civil war in the heart of the Middle East,” Obama said.
First off, extreme weather is not getting more ‘extreme.’
Scientists reject notion that human-caused climate change led to war in Syria – ‘Human-influenced climate change impact on the drought conditions was almost certainly too small to have mattered’
Global warming is not a threat to the world, but global warming ‘solutions’ are. The estimated 1.2 billion people in the world without electricity who are leading a nasty, brutish and short life, will be the ones who “will pay” for global warming solutions that prevent them from obtaining cheap and abundant carbon based energy.
Simple historical facts undermine the President’s claims about global warming and national security concerns.
Small Sampling of evidence countering President Obama’s claims.
Lord Christopher Monckton, Former Thatcher Adviser issues point-by-point rebuttal to Obama: ‘Does the ‘leader’ of the free world really know so little about climate?’ – ‘If this Obama speech was the very best that the narrow faction promoting the extremist line on global warming could muster for their mouthpiece, then the skeptics have won the scientific, the economic, the rational, and the moral arguments – and have won them hands down.’
‘All Large European Wars Occurred With CO2 Below 350 ppm’ Via Real Science website- Most Of The World’s Wars Occurred Below 350 PPM CO2 — ‘Now that we know that war is caused by global warming, I was very surprised to discover that the vast majority of wars occurred before 1988 – including the War of 1812′
UN Climate Chief: Middle East Was Peaceful When CO2 Was Below 350 PPM — UN’s Christiana Figueres: ‘Food shortages and rising prices caused by climate disruptions were among the chief contributors to the civil unrest coursing through North Africa and the Middle East’
Scientific studies comprehensively debunk the notion that rising carbon dioxide will lead to more wars.
‘A total takedown’ of myth by the Center for Strategic and International Studies — ‘Since the dawn of civilization, warmer eras have meant fewer wars. The reason is simple: all things being equal, a colder climate meant reduced crops, more famine and instability. Research by climate historians shows a clear correlation between increased warfare and cold periods. They are particularly clear in Asia and Europe, as well as in Africa’
Scientific American : ‘Greens Should Stop Claiming More Warming Means More War’
Conflict Deaths and Global Warming – ‘The problem is that the conflicts that are cited as examples of the phenomenon are located in areas known for both frequent conflict prior to the current warming period and for historical patterns of extreme climates similar to those seen today.’
Even BBC features harsh criticism of new study: ‘Their strong statement about a general causal link between climate and conflict is unwarranted by the empirical analysis that they provide’ — BBC: Rise in violence ‘linked to climate change’ — ‘Changes in temperature or rainfall correlated with a rise in assaults, rapes and murders’
Study: Cold spells were dark times in Eastern Europe: ‘Cooler periods coincided with conflicts and disease outbreaks’ –Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences’: ‘Some of Eastern Europe’s greatest wars and plagues over the last millennium coincided with cold periods’ — ‘The Black Death in the mid-14th century, the Thirty Years’ War in the early 17th century, the French invasion of Russia in the early 19th century and other social upheavals occurred during cold spells. The team suggests food shortages could explain the timing of some of these events’
Global Conflict Not Linked to Global Climate Change — ‘Wars in Burundi, Chad, the Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Peru, the Comoros, Congo, Eritrea, Niger, and Rwanda are so numerous that I could probably make a statistical argument that one in five wars are due to the AFC winning the Super Bowl’
Remarkably sane article in Science : Warm periods are good, cold periods are bad
Time Mag reports: ‘Peaks of social disturbance such as rebellions, revolutions, & political reforms followed every decline of temperature’ — ‘Number of wars increased by 41% in Cold Phase’ — ‘Peaks of social disturbance such as rebellions, revolutions, and political reforms followed every decline of temperature, with a one- to 15-year time lag’
A UN IPCC Scientist’s New Study! ‘Global Warming Sparks Fistfights & War, Researchers Say': ‘Will systematically increase the risk of many types of conflict ranging from barroom brawls & rape to civil wars & international disputes’ — Climate Depot Responds